Difference Between AA and Al Anon (With Table)

AA and Al Anon are communities for alcoholism treatment for an individual and his family respectively. However, the two terms are often confused to mean the same. This is not true. While AA communities tend to an individual’s alcoholism, Al Anon meetings assist their family members.

AA vs Al Anon

The difference between AA and Al Anon is that AA meetings involve discussions on topics related to alcoholism. On the other hand, Al Anon topics that circle around effective ways of dealing with a family member subject to alcoholism. To become a member of the AA community, a person should have a drinking problem and a strong desire to quit the same. In contrast, to attend Al-Anon meetings, a person needs to have a close family member who is an alcoholic.

Initially founded on the principles of Oxford Group, AA is an informal group without any trained additional professionals or mental health experts. Currently, there are about 100000 AA communities across the globe. In addition, these groups follow a 12 step approach to help people give up alcoholism. 

Founded by Anne W. and Louis B., Al Anon refers to community groups that circle around the social issue of alcoholism. There is no educational or age requirement to qualify as a member. The meetings may be private or public. Although Al-Anon gatherings may be spiritual, they are not oriented to any religion.  Al Anon meetings have a member count ranging from 5 to 25. 

Comparison Table Between AA and Al Anon

Parameters of ComparisonAAAl Anon
DefinitionAA is an open forum for individuals suffering from alcoholism to give up the habit.Al Anon refers to community groups designed for family members of individuals suffering from alcoholism.
Membership Criterion An alcoholic with a determination to give up drinking can become a member of the AA community. A sibling, parent, spouse or any other relative of individuals suffering from alcoholism can attend Al Anon meetings.  
Religious Affiliation AA has a more significant affiliation to religion than Al Anon. Al Anon has a less Significant religious affiliation than AA. 
Aim It serves as a support group for people who are determined to give up their drinking habits. It serves as a support group for the spouse, parents, siblings or other relatives of the people with a drinking problem. 
Activity ExamplesThe gatherings involve discussions on topics or prompts related to alcoholism. The gatherings involve discussions on topics like honesty, forgiveness, enabling and so on. 

What is AA?

Also called Alcoholics Anonymous, AA is an informal group without any trained additional professionals or mental health experts. The community assists people to give up drinking. It is managed by the individuals in recovery. In addition, there are no age or education requirements. 

AA is a self-supporting community where people in recovery help themselves and each other. AA help groups are found everywhere today. Their meetings are conducted in religious places, town halls, fire halls, community centres, and so on. Moreover, AA focuses on the inclusion of people from any and every social, economic, and political background. 

Most AA meetings are open to all. However, some of them are limited only to the members. The topic of discussion in an AA meeting is usually related to alcoholism. Every person is free to share their opinions or experiences in reaction to the topic of discussion. To become a member of the AA community, a person should have a drinking problem and a strong desire to quit the same. 

AA groups are sometimes categorised as Christian groups. However, they are open to differing views and beliefs. The AA community is faith-based. Overall, these groups have been successful in helping people to give up their drinking problems. Conclusively, AA groups are beneficial for people who wish to quit drinking alcohol. 

What is Al Anon?

Derived from the first syllables of Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon assists siblings, parents, spouses, and other relatives of those people who have an alcohol problem. Al Anon meetings have a member range of 5 to 25. To attend these meetings, a person needs to have a close family member who is an alcoholic. 

Al-Anon has a foundation on the same principles as those of AA. There is no educational or age requirement to qualify as a member. The meetings may be private or public. Although Al-Anon gatherings may be spiritual, they are not oriented to any religion. The topic of discussion usually relates to having a loved one addicted to alcohol. 

Some topics for Al-Anon meetings include gaining courage, denial issues, acceptance, changing attitudes, detachment, feelings of emptiness, enabling, dealing with change, making choices, honesty, focusing on oneself, self-esteem, and the importance of forgiveness. The primary purpose of these groups is to help the relatives of those suffering from alcoholism. 

Al-Anon groups are present worldwide. In addition, these meetings show a preference for group gatherings. There are usually no one on one meetings. Based on a discussion of topics or prompts, Al-Anon meetings have a visible advantage for the family of individuals suffering from an alcohol problem. 

Main Differences Between AA and Al Anon

  1. AA is an international level support group for people suffering from a drinking problem. On the other hand, Al Anon refers to community groups designed for family members of individuals suffering from alcoholism.
  2. The gatherings of AA involve discussions on topics or prompts related to alcoholism. In contrast, the gatherings include discussions on issues like honesty, forgiveness, enabling and so on. 
  3. AA has a more significant affiliation to religion than Al-Anon. 
  4. To become a member of the AA community, a person should have a drinking problem and a strong desire to quit alcohol. In contrast, to attend Al-Anon meetings, a person needs to have a close family member who is an alcoholic.
  5. AA serves as a support group for people who are determined to give up their drinking habits. In contrast, Al-Anon serves as a support group for the spouse, parents, siblings or other relatives of the people with a drinking problem. 

Conclusion

The differences between AA and Al Anon highlight the fact that the two are considerably different. The defining feature, membership condition, basic purpose, and topics of discussion of each community convey its distinction.

AA and Al Anon meetings are unique in themselves. The communities offer mutual support to everyone who attends the sessions. Conclusively, both AA and Al Anon meetings have been successful in helping individuals with alcoholism and their relatives. 

References

  1. https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD005032.pub2/abstract 
  2. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/1556035X.2012.705713 
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